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2015 Preview: July

July 1st, 2015

Minions

June was a much better month than expected due to two films, Jurassic World and Inside Out. Had those two films merely matched expectations, then 2015 would have likely fallen behind 2014. As for this coming month, there are five weekends in July and each week there is at least one film with the potential to reach $100 million. Most weeks there are two films that at least have a shot at getting to the century mark. The biggest hit of the month will likely be Minions, which has already opened in several international markets and it's ahead of Despicable Me 2 at the same point. That film made more than $300 million and nearly $1 billion worldwide, so any growth would be fantastic. There are also a number of potential $200 million films, led by Ant-man. Ant-man is the latest release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has averaged $300 million domestically over eleven films and all of the past six films have reached at least $200 million. I'm not saying this one is guaranteed to do the same, but you can't dismiss that possibility. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Pixels have smaller chances to get to $200 million, but you have to at least entertain the possibility. Additionally, last July was a lot weaker than this July looks to be, so 2015 should win in the year-over-year comparison most weeks. Or I might have let the box office success of June cloud my judgment. We will soon find out.

Weekend of June 3rd, 2015

Terminator: Genisys poster

The first weekend of July has two wide releases, both of which are on track to hit $100 million. Of the two, Terminator: Genisys is the more traditional summer blockbuster film; however, the franchise peaked at the box office nearly 25 years ago and the buzz for this one isn't great and its early reviews are weak, to be kind. Furthermore, while films like Magic Mike XXL would normally be considered counter-programming, we've seen some clear examples that these films can be smash hits, including the first Magic Mike film, which earned more than $100 million in 2012. As for this weekend last year, Tammy was the biggest new release with $21.58 million, while Transformers: Age of Extinction remained in first place with $37.05 million. No other movie made more than $10 million at the box office. I think Terminator: Genisys will open with more than $40 million, while Magic Mike XXL will open with more than $30 million, while the overall depth should be much better. Look for July to start out with a win in the year-over-year comparison.

Magic Mike XXL

Magic Mike XXL poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MagicMikeMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 3rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Stripping, Retirement, One Last Job, Screenplay Written By Star, and more
Directed By: Greg Jacobs
Written By: Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

The first Magic Mike cost just $7 million to make, but despite this, it earned more than $100 million at the box office. Of course they made a sequel. Fortunately, its reviews were just as good as its box office numbers, so those who saw the first film will likely rush back to see this one. Additionally, other female-centric films like Pitch Perfect or 50 Shades of Grey have shown this is a market that can turn a film into a blockbuster. On the other hand, comedies tend to struggle to match their predecessors at the box office, as we just saw with Ted 2. There is a chance this one will fail to reach $100 million by a substantial margin, or it could earn well over $150 million. I think somewhere close to the middle is the most likely outcome.

Last Minute Update: The reviews continue to show up and they have fallen from about 70% positive to just under 60% and into the rotten level. As such, I've dropped the box office potential from $125 million to $105 million.

Terminator: Genisys

Terminator: Genisys poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TerminatorMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: July 3rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci -fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: War, End of the World, Post-Apocalypse, Robots, A.I., Time Travel, Same Role / Different Actors, Same Actor / Different Roles, Reboot, Visual Effects, and more
Directed By: Alan Taylor
Written By: Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $170 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

The first Terminator movie was an iconic Sci-fi action film and to this day remains a classic of the genre. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was one of the biggest movies ever made and was nearly as good as the original. Since then, the franchise has failed to live up to the same quality, while the box office numbers have suffered as well. As a result, I was not overly optimistic about this film's chances at the box office and the film's early reviews suggest I wasn't wrong. That said, the buzz is still strong enough that it should earn first place during the weekend, even if it doesn't have strong legs.

Last Minute Update: When I first wrote my prediction, the film's Tomatometer Score was in the 40% positive range. That's not good, but it's not bad for a visually intensive popcorn flick. Since then, it has fallen to just 27% positive. That's nearing disaster level. As a result, I no longer think it will get to the $100 million mark. It should still come close, but not close enough for the studio to give it a push over the top.

Weekend of July 10th, 2015

Minions poster

This is a busy week with three wide releases, but only one of them, Minions, has any real shot at box office success. Minions is a spin-off from the Despicable Me franchise. The previous installment earned more than $350 million domestically and nearly $1 billion worldwide, so this film could be the third $1 billion movie for Universal this year alone. Wow. On the other hand, Self/Less is a high concept Sci-fi action film about a wealthy older man who transfers his consciousness into the body of a younger man. It might be too high-concept to thrive in theaters. Finally there's The Gallows, a horror film opening in summer. This genre rarely finds breakout success during the summer. This weekend last year was led by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which earned $72.61 million. I think Minions will top that, plus 2015 appears to have better depth.

The Gallows

The Gallows poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheGallowsMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 10th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for bloody horror violence, some nudity and brief language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Theater Actor, Accidental Death, Found Footage, Teenage Slasher, and more
Directed By: Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Written By: Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Starring: Cassidy Gifford and others
Production Budget: Estimated at under $10 million, perhaps under $5 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

A horror film starring no one with any real name recognition and co-written and co-directed by two men with a combined one previous film under their belts. Additionally, it is a found footage film, which is a subgenre that has overstayed its welcome. On the other hand, it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so it won't take a lot to break even.

Minions

Minions poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MinionsMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 10th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for action and rude humor.
Source: Spin-Off
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Prequel, Origin Story, Prehistoric Times, Dinosaurs, Cavemen, Ancient Egypt, Pirates, Vampires, Antarctica, 1960s, Super-Villains, Inventor, Royalty, London, Voiceover, Directing Yourself, Same Actor / Different Roles, and more
Directed By: Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda
Written By: Brian Lynch
Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Saunders, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $375 million

Minions is a spin-off from the Despicable Me franchise. It tells the origins story of the titular minions, specifically Kevin, Stuart, and Bob. Given the box office numbers Despicable Me 2 managed, it wouldn't take much for Minions to break the $1 billion mark. If it did that, then Universal would become the first studio with three $ billion films in one year since... forever. In fact, the record for most $1 billion movies in a single year was four, which happened in 2012. Three different studies had films that reached that milestone. That record looks on really shaky ground.

On the other hand... Penguins of Madagascar. That film was from a franchise that averaged nearly $200 million domestically and over $600 million worldwide, but it barely managed half of what its direct predecessor earned in theaters. It turns out making a movie that focuses on the side characters of a franchise isn't always a good idea. Fortunately, Minions has already been released in a number of international markets and the box office numbers are a little bit higher than Despicable Me 2's were in the same markets. Additionally, the reviews are really good at 76% positive. I think $1 billion worldwide is a good target to reach for.

Self/Less

Self/Less poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Outlive.Life
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: July 10th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sexuality, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Keywords: Terminal Illness, Cancer, Inventor, Transferring Consciousness, and more
Directed By: Tarsem Singh
Written By: Alex Pastor and David Pastor
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Ben Kingsley plays an elderly rich man dying of cancer. He is given a second chance at life when an inventor offers to transfer his consciousness into another man, an empty vessel. However, after the procedure is done and he's in the body of Ryan Reynolds, he realizes this new man wasn't just an empty vessel, but was a man with a wife and family of his own.

This is a high-concept film directed by Tarsem Singh, who sadly tends to build his films on style over substance. He also tends to make really expensive films. Additionally, the buzz is weak and the studio releasing the film rarely produces anything that can be called a midlevel hit. On the other hand, Ryan Reynolds's previous film, Woman in Gold rose from select cities to finish with more than $30 million. I think this one will do the same. Unfortunately, it would have to make twice that to break even any time soon.

Weekend of July 17th, 2015

Ant-Man poster

There are only two wide releases this week: Ant-Man and Trainwreck. However, both of them could be surprise hits. The early reviews for both films are amazing, although in the case of Ant-man, they are early, early reviews, as there is still an embargo on releasing reviews, so we only have a few tweets to go on at the moment. Ant-man is the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that Mega-franchise is on a six film $200 million hit run. That's a Pixar-like run. Meanwhile, Trainwreck is the latest Judd Apatow film. Granted, he's off his box office peak, but this time he's working with Amy Schumer, who is one of the hottest comedians around. There's a chance this film could be a surprise $100 million hit. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases that earned roughly $60 million combined. Ant-man should top that by itself, while Trainwreck will pull in close to $30 million. Things are looking good for 2015 this week.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Marvel.com/AntMan
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: July 17th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sci-fi action violence.
Source: Based on a Comic Book
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Marvel, Origin Story, Shrinking, Heist, Life on the Outside, Inventor, Going Legit, San Francisco, Screenplay Written By Star, Gratuitous Cameo, and more
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Written By: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Douglas, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $130 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

Ant-Man is the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is currently on a six-film $200 million streak. Most people think that streak will end with this movie. However, most people thought that streak would end with Guardians of the Galaxy and we all know how well that film did. Additionally, the early buzz is strong and the film has a good release date without any direct competition. I am more bullish that most analysts, but I think this film will top $200 million by the time its domestic theatrical run is over with possibly $600 million worldwide. On the other hand, most analysts think it is aiming for a $50 million to $60 million opening weekend, which would likely result in a $150 million domestic run. Even that would be a hit, continuing Marvel's winning streak. That's quite a turnaround in fortunes for a film that some thought would fail after the loss of writer / director Edgar Wright.

Trainwreck

Trainwreck poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TrainWreckMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: July 17th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Dysfunctional Family, Romance, Doctors, Basketball, Delayed Adulthood, Screenplay Written by Star, and more
Directed By: Judd Apatow
Written By: Amy Schumer
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, and others
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Judd Apatow has made some amazing films since making his directorial debut with The 40-Year Old Virgin. However, recently he's been on a bit of a soft streak, as both Funny People and This is 40 missed expectations with both critics and moviegoers. On the other hand, Amy Schumer has never been hotter with a very successful TV series. This is her first movie as a lead actress, which is a bit of a risk. Fortunately, the early reviews are 100% positive. Granted, there are only 8 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, but this is a fantastic start. With the success of films like Spy and Pitch Perfect 2, it seems more likely than not that Trainwreck will hit $100 million in theaters and will become yet another hit for Universal.

Weekend of July 24th, 2015

Pixels poster

The fourth weekend of July is the busiest weekend of the month with four wide releases, maybe. Four films is a lot to open wide in the same weekend and there's a chance one of the two smaller films will be relegated to a semi-wide release. There's growing buzz surrounding Pixels and some think it might be the biggest hit in Adam Sandler's career overtaking Big Daddy. Paper Towns is the second adaptation of a John Green novel in barely more than a year. The Fault in Our Stars earned nearly $125 million domestically, which was a lot more than people were expecting. I don't think this one will match it at the box office, but it has a shot at $100 million. One of Southpaw or The Vatican Tapes might only open semi-wide. Neither has a real shot at becoming a midlevel hit. (While I was writing this column, the balance of evidence has tipped and I'm now fairly sure The Vatican Tapes is only opening in limited release.) This weekend last year was led by Lucy with over $40 million, while Hercules came very close to $30 million during its debut. I think the two biggest wide releases this year will top those two openings respectively helping 2015 win the year-over-year comparison.

Paper Towns

Paper Towns poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PaperTownsMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: July 24th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity - all involving teens.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Young Adult Adaptation, Revenge, Romance, Road Trip, Unrequited Love, Missing Person, Relationships Gone Wrong, and more
Directed By: Jake Schreier
Written By: Michael H. Weber, Scott Neustadter, and John Green
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Paper Towns is adapted from a John Green novel and it stars Nat Wolff, which are two links to The Fault in Our Stars. That film came out this time last year and was a surprise $100 million hit. It is very unlikely it will match the original at the box office. Pent up fangirl demand helped that movie become a massive hit. This time around, some of that demand has been vented, while the star power isn't quite as good. (No offense to Cara Delevingne, but this is her biggest role to date, while Shailene-Woodley had earned Oscar buzz for The Descendants.) Granted, I'm a lot more bullish than most analysts, but this was true with The Fault in Our Stars and it turned out even I underestimated demand, so keep all of that in mind.

Pixels

Pixels poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PixelsMovie.Tumblr.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: July 24th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments.
Source: Based on a Short Film
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Video Games, Alien Invasion, Digital Cinematography, 3D, 3D Post-Production Conversions, and more
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Written By: Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling, and Patrick Jean
Starring: Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin James, Josh Gad, and others
Production Budget: $110 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

This film is based on a short film, also called Pixels. In the short film, 8-bit video game characters come pouring out of an old TV and attack the city. It had some cool visuals and went viral, but it didn't have much of a plot. So how will they turn that into a feature-length movie? Well, in Pixels, humanity sent out a probe that included plenty of cultural references, including video game characters of the era. Aliens find this probe and instead of seeing it as a greeting, they see it as an act of war and think our weapons look like the video game characters. Because of this, when they attack, they use the same video game characters to attack us. Earth's only hope are a group of retro-video game players, led by Adam Sandler. (Although personally, Peter Dinklage is the biggest draw for me.)

On the one hand, I'm not sold on this film in terms of quality. On the other hand, I'm getting a sense this will be a huge hit. First of all, there's never been a connection between the quality of an Adam Sandler film and its box office haul. Secondly, studios are already reacting to this film. For instance, Dwayne Johnson has been cast in Rampage. There are some who think it will earn over $200 million. That seems a little too much, but it could become the biggest hit in Adam Sandler's career.

Southpaw

Southpaw poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SouthPawFilm.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co
Release Date: July 24th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, and some violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Boxing, Retired, Out of Retirement, Death of a Spouse, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Comeback, Child Protective Services, and more
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Written By: Richard Wenk and Kurt Sutter
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a boxer who retired to spend more time with his family. However, when his wife, Rachel McAdams, dies, his life goes to hell and he loses his daughter, Oona Laurence, to Child Protective Services. Now he has to retrain with Forest Whitaker, to get back his career and his daughter.

The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is coming off his biggest hit of his career, The Equalizer. Additionally, the cast is very talented with Jake Gyllenhaal having an Oscar nomination to his credit, while Forest Whitaker has won an Oscar. Sadly, the early reviews are mixed and Weinstein Co films rarely open wide. Paddington was one rare exception, but I think this film might open in under 2,000 theaters. If it reviews don't improve and the film opens in barely more than 2,000 theaters, it might fail to earn more than $20 million during it entire run. If all things go their way, it could open with $20 million. The above box office potential is a weighted average of the two extremes.

Weekend of July 31st, 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation poster

The final weekend of July begins on the final day of the month. There are two wide releases coming out this week, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Vacation. The former could be a $200 million hit, while the latter could be a surprise $100 million hit. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was the biggest hit in the franchise, at least worldwide, and there's a chance this film will break that number. On the other hand, Vacation is the first installment in the National Lampoon's Vacation franchise in nearly 20 years. Gaps like this usually spell disaster... usually. This weekend last year was actually the first weekend in August. It is also the weekend Guardians of the Galaxy opened earning $94.32 million. I don't think Rogue Nation will do that well, so 2015 might end on a down note. Then again, if I'm right, the entire month will still be better than 2014 by a considerable margin.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MissionImpossible.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: July 31st, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity.
Source: Based on TV / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agent, Hitmen, and more
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce, and Will Staples
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

Tom Cruise returns to the Mission: Impossible franchise. This franchise has been around for nearly 20 years. On the downside, the franchise peaked domestically way back in 2000. The most recent installment, Ghost Protocol, came very close to topping the franchise domestically and was the biggest hit worldwide. Will Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation top those figures? Most analysts say no, and while I tend to agree, there are some reasons to be optimistic. The previous installment to Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible III, only managed $134 million domestically, while Ghost Protocol itself earned $209 million. That's a big jump and since its reviews were more than 90% positive, most people who saw that movie will want to see Rogue Nation as well. Additionally, before Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise hadn't starred in a $100 million hit since Mission: Impossible III. This time around, his most recent $100 million hit was Edge of Tomorrow, which came out this time last year. There are some reasons to believe Rogue Nation will get to $200 million, but I think it is better to be a little more conservative.

Vacation

Vacation poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: VacationTheMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 29th, 2015
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Probably R
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Vacation, Road Trip, Dysfunctional Family, Delayed Sequel, Sequel with Stars Recast, Actor Making Directorial Debut, and more
Directed By: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Written By: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million

Ed Helms starred in The Hangover, which was a huge hit. He was also part of We're the Millers, which was a $150 million hit this time back in 2013. That suggests Vacation at least has a shot at $100 million. In fact, some think it will roar past that milestone. On the other hand, it is rare for a franchise to comeback after a nearly 20-year absence. It worked with Mad Max: Fury Road, but that film also earned near perfect reviews. By comparison, while the original Summer Vacation is considered a classic, the rest of the franchise wasn't as good. In fact, the most recent installment, Vegas Vacation, flopped at the box office and with critics. There's a chance this film won't become the biggest hit in the franchise, even if you don't take into account inflation. I don't think it will be that bad, but I also don't think it will reach the century mark.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Ant-Man, Pixels, Minions, Self/Less, Terminator: Genisys, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Magic Mike XXL, The Vatican Tapes, Paper Towns, Vacation, Trainwreck, The Gallows, Southpaw, Mission: Impossible, Terminator, National Lampoon's Vacation, Madagascar, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Despicable Me, Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, Forest Whitaker, Judd Apatow, Christina Applegate, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Jason Clarke, Chris Columbus, John Francis Daley, Peter Dinklage, Michael Douglas, Timothy Dowling, Antoine Fuqua, Josh Gad, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Hader, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Chris Hemsworth, Tim Herlihy, Kevin James, Dwayne Johnson, Ben Kingsley, Evangeline Lilly, Joe Manganiello, Leslie Mann, Rachel McAdams, Adam McKay, Michelle Monaghan, Simon Pegg, Alex Pettyfer, Peyton Reed, Jeremy Renner, Ryan Reynolds, Ving Rhames, Paul Rudd, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Saunders, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Corey Stoll, Channing Tatum, Shailene Woodley, Edgar Wright, Pierre Coffin, Christopher McQuarrie, Joe Cornish, Richard Wenk, Patrick Lussier, Brian Lynch, Tarsem Singh, Jonathan Goldstein, Matt Bomer, Nat Wolff, Kyle Balda, Amy Schumer, Jake Schreier, Reid Carolin, Laeta Kalogridis, Jai Courtney, Drew Pearce, Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Alex Pastor, David Pastor, Emilia Clarke, Greg Jacobs, John Green, Alan Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, Cara Delevingne, Will Staples, Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing, Kurt Sutter, Cassidy Gifford